The following is a letter sent to the RTD Board of Directors from Denver City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca, as well as over 50 other signatories, regarding Raverro Stinnett and the April 21 vote on the code of conduct change:
Dear RTD Board of Directors: Two years ago on April 20, 2018, Raverro Stinnett, a local Denver artist, was viciously beaten by Allied Universal Security guards in the RTD Union Station terminal while he waited after midnight to catch a train home (https://bit.ly/3apS3wc). His injuries were so severe that he may never fully recover or regain his artistic abilities. Although the guards were convicted of minor criminal charges for nearly killing Mr. Stinnett in an unprovoked attack, there has yet to be accountability for Allied Universal Security — a billion-dollar, for-profit corporation that continues to enjoy a $58 million contract with the Regional Transportation District (RTD), courtesy of Colorado taxpayers, despite a history of excessive force cases nationally.
Although the criminal case has been resolved, justice will not be fully served until Mr. Stinnett’s pending civil case is resolved—a case that has dragged on for two years despite clear wrongdoing. Additionally, while the civil case is pending, we’ve learned that RTD is set to pass an unprecedented restrictive rule that will make it easier for security officers to kick people out of RTD bus and train stations, and more likely that these types of brutal incidents will occur. In fact, we see no evidence that this restrictive rule will be applied equally or fairly to all patrons, since it appears to be driven by fears and stereotypes.
The only remaining questions will simply be how many more people will be needlessly hurt by guards who have less accountability than Denver police officers, and how much more of the public’s trust will be eroded?
Instead, we believe the rule, when applied to certain populations, will create conditions similar to those that led to the beating of Mr. Stinnett: namely, unilateral authority to use force to remove anyone who Allied’s guards deem undesirable based on physical characteristics. This form of racial and poverty profiling must not be sanctioned. Discriminatory profiling in public transit stations is as unconscionable today in 2020 as it was 60 years ago when the Freedom Riders risked their lives to desegregate public bus terminals.
It shocks our collective conscience that not only has RTD failed to resolve Mr. Stinnet’s case after he nearly lost his life in an RTD Union Station bathroom in the most degrading and dehumanizing way, but that the RTD Board is set to pass an even more restrictive rule without one mention of the violation of a Black man’s civil rights. It is truly baffling that rather than placing more safeguards in place to protect against abuses, the RTD board is doubling down by giving even more power to a corporation with a well-documented pattern and history of brutality against homeless people, worker’s rights violations, religious bias, and sexual harassment, racism and retaliation.
RTD Directors were elected to act in the best interests of the public, and that includes all members of the public through an objective and non-discriminatory standard. We understand that RTD, as a quasi-public entity, contracted with private entities Sage Hospitality and Allied Security for the management of Union Station. However, so long as public dollars are used to subsidize Union Station, there is a higher duty of accountability to ensure that all patrons are treated equally and without fear of being targeted for excessive force by RTD’s agents.
There will be more cases of excessive force by RTD security if the RTD Board continues to move forward with this rule change that is rooted in fear rather than best practices. The only remaining questions will simply be how many more people will be needlessly hurt by guards who have less accountability than Denver police officers, and how much more of the public’s trust will be eroded? Therefore, we urge the RTD Board to reverse course in the strongest possible terms on the restrictive rule, and fairly resolve Mr. Stinnett’s case expeditiously.
Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca, Denver City Council, District 9; Logan Robertson, Alternative Solutions Advocacy Project; Julie Reiskin, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition; Hope Hyatt, Colorado Mental Wellness Network; Cole Chandler, Colorado Village Collaborative; Terese Howard, Denver Homeless Out Loud; Dianne Thiel, Denver Homeless Out Loud; River Dougherty, Front Range Mutual Aid Network; Pastor Patrick Demmer, Graham Memorial Church of God in Christ; David Whitmore, HCC; Rev. Dr. Eric D. Nelson, Heritage Christian Center; Dr. Thomas S. Mayes, Living Water Christian Center
Strider Benston, NAACP; Reverend Dr. Anne Rice-Jones, NAACP, Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance, Together Colorado; Darren O’Connor, National Lawyers Guild of Colorado; Arthur Porter, New Nation Church; Chelsey Baker-Hauck, North Denver for Social Justice; Bishop Jerry Demmer, President, Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance ; Jennifer Eyl, Project Safeguard; Laura Avant, Resurrection Clothing, a project of Occupy Denver; Terin Blake, Rocky Mountain Bus Riders Union; Robert Davis, Seasoned With Grace UnBoxed; Dr. Sandra Powell, Soul Care Full Gospel Center; Taj Ashaheed, Square One Strategies; Katrina Byars, Sustainable Planning And Development; Marc Davis, The Absolute Word Church; Lucy Martin, The Law Office of Lucy A. Martin; Field Majors, The Theatre Under Glass, Ethnic Enterprises; Evan Weissman, Warm Cookies of the Revolution; Christian Anderson, Amalthea Aelwyn, Nora Anderson, Victoria Barriga, Paul Bindel, Lisa Calderón, Andrea Chávez, Hashim Coates, Bishop Foreman, Jennifer Goetz, Benjamin Hand-Bender, Shawn Hayes, Evan Herzoff, Shandra Knight, Mary Leavell, Feliciana Lilgerose, Heather Logalbo, Cory Montalvo, Chad Myers, Jennifer Nahulu, Bettie Nunally, Erin Rollman, Diane Sandman, Katrina Sims, Shehilarae Stephens, Frank Sturgell, and Leanne Wheeler
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